Renovation Junky: What's the Difference between Siding and Roofing Nailers

Renovation Junky: What's the Difference between Siding and Roofing Nailers

Roofing
Siding
By Alex Mikayelyan December 02, 2021

Keeping the exterior siding and roof in order is a must if you’re looking to have not only an attractive curb appeal but also an exterior that is properly insulated and withstands the weather. To keep siding panels or roofing shingles from falling off you’ll need to keep them in place with something, this being nails, a construction material that’s as old as construction itself. However, we’ve come a long way since the traditional hammer and nails, as today we have something that is far more effective, easier to use, and much faster: the nailgun or nailer.

Siding and roofing require different types of nail guns, and so there are separate kinds of this tool for each of these surfaces. While the concept behind these two may be quite similar, that being shooting nails into a particular surface. However, they are specialized in handling different tasks and if you know which one to use, your exterior renovation project will be a huge success.

Siding Nailer

The Important Nuances of Siding Nailers

The Important Nuances of Siding Nailers

As their name suggests, siding nailers are designed to install siding onto exterior walls. 

Looking at the two nail guns, you will notice something immediately: they look alike and they operate the same. This is because there is little to no difference between the two nailers themselves and there really shouldn’t be. Nailers are designed to use a special coil mechanism to apply enough force that will launch the nails into the surface, fastening the siding or shingle into place. For both nailers, this process is the same and in both cases, you can adjust different settings, strengths, as well as the size of nails you need to shoot.

Different nail guns fire their own unique set of nails, and this is where the main deviation between the two pieces of equipment comes in. Exterior siding and roof shingles are designed to handle different tasks and so they are structured and fastened differently. For example, roofing shingles are meant to be replaced far more often than siding. This means that siding must stay put for a longer period of time than roofing, so the nails you use for flush siding have to keep it tight against the wall. What is crucial in any siding nail gun is the ability to set the nail’s depth. This allows you to adjust exactly how deep you want the nail to go, depending on the width of the siding. For thicker siding planks you may need to have the nails go in deeper, to keep it firmly in place.

How Important Nails Are In Construction Projects

How Important Nails Are In Construction Projects

But the important nuance to consider with siding nailers is the nails themselves. These tend to be longer than roofing nails by several inches as siding is often much thicker than most roof shingles out there. Not only that but the nails themselves are designed in such a way that they cannot be removed. Since siding is not supposed to be regularly replaced, the nails need to stay firmly in place for as long as possible. The special design of the nails allows them to have a firmer grip as they are nailed into the siding and exterior wall, thus making it very difficult to remove the siding panels.

The length of the nails is also what’s going to prevent them from falling out when the siding expands. While the siding itself sits flush against the wall, the heads of the nails do not actually touch the siding. In other words, the nail doesn’t go all the way in, just enough to hold the siding in place firmly against the wall. This is done so that as time goes on and the wooden siding expands, it has room to grow on the nail. If the nail was fired flush into the siding, the siding would expand and pull the nail out with it.

The downside to these longer siding nails is that they are more expensive than the roofing variant. Considering that they are longer, this does make sense. Having to change a few siding panels, you really won’t notice much of a difference in the prices. However, for a full-scale siding renovation, the cost of the nails will start to pile on and you will notice how they are more costly. 

Roofing Nailer

Roofing Nailer That Specializes At Keeping Shingles In Place

Roofing Nailer That Specializes At Keeping Shingles In Place

Roofing nailers are designed with certain other conveniences in mind. First, it is very important for roofing nails to come with a coil nail belt feeding mechanism. Now, for someone inexperienced with DIY, those four words may sound alien, but the concept behind it is pretty simple. If you’re working on the roof, you cannot take all your construction materials and tools with you. If not for the sake of preventing any excess damage to the shingles, then simply because it may be physically impossible to carry all those things up a ladder. 

To nail shingles onto the entire roof you will require a lot of nails, but you cannot carry all of them with you onto the roof, which means you will need to step down the ladder every time the electric nail gun needs a refill. This means that the best roofing nailer gun feature must prioritize nail capacity to help complete large-scale projects more conveniently. The coil nail is a type of metallic belt with a ton of nails already in place. Much like those machine guns you see in action movies wielded by an Austrian giant, as he holds the gun in one arm and the bullet belt in the other, this allows you to easily carry and reload your coil nail gun cordless variant without having to climb down every time you run out. For a big roofing project, these roofing cordless nail guns are a great way to save time and energy that you would have otherwise spent on having to fetch nails from below.

The Conveniences of Roofing Nailers

The Conveniences of Roofing Nailers

As was already mentioned with the siding nailer, roofing nails are meant to be taken out and replaced. If the siding is meant to be a permanent fixture of your home’s exterior (or as close to permanent as the local weather will allow) roof shingles are quite the opposite. Now, this does not mean that you have to regularly change your shingles, but if you live in an area with a lot of extreme weather conditions, such as frost and hail, you’ll find yourself replacing shingles a lot more often than siding. 

This is why roofing nails are designed to not only be easy to install, but also easy to remove. So when some of your shingles, or perhaps even the majority, are damaged, you won’t waste too much time trying to remove the damaged ones and replace them with new ones. Roofing nails are much easier to remove than siding. However, this is possible as a result of the nails being shorter than the ones used for siding. Unlike siding, which must also accommodate the weight of the siding panels, there is no pressure for roofing nails to hold up any weight, which means they can be short without having to worry about falling off.

AM

Written by
Alex Mikayelyan

Written by Alex Mikayelyan

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